Monday, June 1, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Grimlock (BECMI Special)

For all of June, I am going to be focusing on the BECMI rules, the only* D&D I never really played.
(*I played a lot of Holmes, Moldvay, Cook and Marsh Basic through Expert and used some BECMI books.)

For my June Monster Mondays (and there are 5 of them!) I am going to focus on a monster that would have been appropriate for the boxed set I am reviewing that week.  Also, I want to pick monsters I would have been likely to have used then OR ones I actually created back then.  Thankfully for this I have been "given" my youngest son's old game computer (wait...didn't I buy this??) and it has the only DVD-ROM drives in the house now.  I have been digging through some wonderful treasures I had semi-forgot I had.

So for this week, I want to do a creature that would have felt at home in the D&D Basic Set.  My general rule today is if I could have encountered them in the Caves of Chaos, then they are good.

I was talking to my oldest son about this and he suggested Grimlocks.  Honestly, it is perfect.

A lot of my own D&D world-building was built on the classics, and what is more classic than The Time Machine, both the book and the great 1960 George Pal directed film.   The Grimlocks of D&D have a spiritual ancestor in the Morlocks of the H.G. Welles classic.  Both creatures are essentially a human species that has "devolved" into a barbaric state.  They even share some literature (and not literal) DNA with similar creatures from H.P. Lovecraft or Richard Sharpe Shaver's "deros".  They would have been right at home in the Cave of Chaos.  Especially since they fill an "uncomfortable" niche of what happens to humans who dedicate themselves to darkness and chaos.  The Morlocks would have been still fresh in my mind in my early D&D days from the almost forgettable (expect by meI guess) 1978 Time Machine TV Movie.

I also like them for the witch connection.  Grimlocks were popular monsters on Charmed where they are essentially low-level demons.

In my games, Grimlocks are much the same as they are in all sorts of D&D games.  Save they are demon-worshipping cultists and their distrust of all other races (and their cannibalism) keep them from forming strong bonds to really rule the underworld.

Grimlock
Armor Class:  7
Hit Dice: 2+2*
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2-7 (1d6+1)
No. Appearing: 2-20 (0)
Save As: Fighter 4
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: Nil
Alignment: Chaos
XP Value: 30

Grimlocks are a blind subterranean race that attacks anyone and anything they do not know.   They are descended from a group of human cultists that worshipped the foulest demons.  Whether they were driven underground or sought it out on their own they have since moved far away from their original humanity into something more akin to a monster.

Their skin coloration is a dull gray and their milky white eyes appear to dull and sightless. Indeed the Grimlock is blind, but their senses of smell and hearing are so acute that they can still "see" in the complete darkness.  They can sense vibrations so they are capable of spotting and attacking enemies, even invisible ones, up to 120' away.  They do not use missile attacks and prefer to fight with clubs or rocks.  Most are bald, but some have sparse dark hair on their heads, especially the females.
Grimlocks are stronger than average, 15 Strength, but they also have lower than average intelligence and wisdom (usually 9 or 8).

Grimlocks have lived in small isolated communities for centuries.  They will keep prisoners to replace fallen members, at least until such prisoners can produce new Grimlocks for them.  Prisoners, fallen Grimlocks, or any other enemy, once they are dead are eaten.  Grimlocks have no use for, or understanding of, treasure save for weapons.

Despite being blind and immune to any effect that requires sight (a medusa attack for example) they loathe the sun and will avoid going to the surface world save for nights of the new moon.

Special Grimlocks can advance as far as the 4th level as a Warlock to a demonic cult.

Grimlocks and Troglodytes hate each other and will attack the other to the exclusion of all other enemies.

Some scholars believe that the human cultists that spawned the grimlock race had intermingled with lower demons to produce the first grimlocks.  So far none of these scholars have ventured out of their lofty towers of learning, with plenty of sunlight, to put their theories to the test.

1960 Morlocks

1978 Morlock

Grimlocks from Charmed

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